There are only a few times during the year that see the entire adventure and outdoor community come together to share new ideas and discuss the future. Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show, a massive gathering of close to every company that makes an outdoor-related product, is one of those times.
This year, ASN’s staff converged on the show in Denver to uncover what the next big trends look like, and what you should get excited for in 2018 and beyond.
This community of eco-conscious, health-minded individuals are arguably the most in-the-know when it comes to creating and influencing products that support the wellness lifestyle.
The following are a few of our favorite trends and items seen at the show.
Healthier Instant Meals
If you have had the misfortune to have suffered through an instant meal in the past, you can attest to the fact that it's typically not the healthiest choice out there. That's why we were really excited to see a new wave of instant meals emerging that focus on taste and nutrition.
These meals in a bag are huge for traveling, camping and just generally being on the go, but can also be made at home, too.
A couple that stood out to us were Patagonia Provisions’ responsibly sourced and organic bars, jerky, pre-packaged wild sockeye salmon and bag meals, and Good-To-Go, a company out of Maine creating just-add-water dehydrated meals that taste gourmet.
At Patagonia, we had a chance to sample the savory grains, which were made into a delicious tabouleh salad. Provisions also offers up soups and chili. Prep time for each is 10 minutes, and requires no outside ingredients besides hot water.
This division of Patagonia is growing, and can currently be found at Patagonia flagship stores as well as Patagonia.com.
Good-To-Go, created by former New York award-winning chef Jennifer Scism and her husband David Koorits, was serving up a spicy chicken gumbo that provided just the right amount of heat and savory flavors.
It tastes as if it has very little added preservatives, and upon a closer look we discovered why – because it doesn't. Six of Good-To-Go's meals are vegan, and include ingredients like nutritional yeast and anti-inflammatory capsaicin, the compound that makes chili peppers hot.
Based in Kittery, Maine, Good-To-Go and its meal packs can be found across the US and Canada at REI and many other independent retailers.
Winter Fitness Gear
For those who live active lifestyles, there are no questions asked when it comes to keeping up the same fitness regimen during colder months.
As technology advances, companies are now finding innovative ways to adapt gear to cold weather, making it more comfortable and easier than ever to get out there and be active in regions that have chilly winter temps.
Patagonia is one of those companies. We were excited to be one of the first to check out their cold-weather running gear, The Peak Mission jacket and tights, for both men and women. Thanks to a solid experience of running and hiking around Denver with temperatures in the teens, our SoCal-based staff now understands just how crucial this gear is!
Smith’s Low Down Sunglasses and Focus App
Eyewear that measures brain waves and guides you to be a calmer, more focused version of yourself?
If you'd told us about these sunglasses a few years ago, we would have scoffed, but today, they are real and available at your wellness beck and call.
The Smith Low Down Sunglasses, which hit the market back in October, contain sensors on the nose and temples to record brain activity during training sessions, pinpointing ways to add more focus and concentration into your workouts, and your life.
What we loved even more is the FOCUS app, which teaches you "brain-based" cognitive training techniques to improve mental focus and reduce stress, leading to greater cardiovascular and immune health.
The sunglasses cue you to focus on your breathing, an essential part of meditation, and the app also features "guided training" lessons for relaxation and better sleep. We see this product as a necessary mental tool to get us through 2018 and beyond.
HydraPak Expedition 8L
Staying hydrated can sometimes be a bit of challenge, depending on where you are, what your schedule entails, your proximity to more water for refills and the space and bandwidth to stash and carry H2O.
What we immediately appreciated about HydraPak is that they've thought of every scenario ahead of time, and designed products that solve common dilemmas. Made with thermoplastic polyurethane (or TPU) which is a highly flexible, BPA-free plastic, their water bottles are collapsible when empty, making them super easy to store.
HydraPak's new Expedition 8L features daisy chain notches that allow you to hang it up inside a tent, van or really anywhere life takes you. The wide-mouth Plug-n-Play cap kit allows for easier filling and pouring. It also has a dispensing tap to control the flow of water, making it easy to use for a shower, too.
It's fully collapsible for traveling, has leak-proof welded seams and we liked the add-on option for the ArcticFusion Tube Kit, which will keep your water from freezing in the coldest of climates.
Tea You Can Take With You Anywhere
One of our New Year's resolutions was to drink more tea, and that just became a more realistic goal, thanks to a few companies we ran into at OR + SIA.
Tea is one of those beverages that becomes a bit more tricky to pull off when you are on the go, especially if you are out in the wilderness and abiding by a "leave no trace" mentality.
We loved the abundance of healthy-option teas that we saw cropping up, which seem to have been developed for a new generation of eco-conscious consumers who aren't willing to sacrifice on ingredients.
One of those companies is Cusa, which just launched last year, and has already gained the attention of REI stores. The founder has developed a proprietary process to dehydrate high quality blends, packing a lot of tea into a small package.
Ingredients are 100-percent organic and contain no additives or sugar. All you have to do is add hot or cold water. We can definitely get on board with that.
Big thanks to Alpine Start, an instant coffee company created for those who like to be up and moving before the sunrise, and who enjoy quality coffee. They had coffee carts throughout the show, keeping us fueled and focused.
Carabiner, which roasts all their small-batch coffee out of Boulder, Colorado, was also keeping the crowds happy, caffeinated and educated on their give-back program to women and youth in Nepal. Plus, we couldn’t resist their #Vanlife vibes.
More Health and Wellness stories from ASN